Unitarian Universalists of the Islands will meet at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 in Fellowship Hall at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, 2050 Periwinkle Way. The service is open to the public. Unitarian Universalists welcome people with diverse beliefs from all religious or philosophical traditions.
The presentation at this service will continue a UU exploration into the ethos of food sustainability and social justice. At their 2011 national General Assembly, the Unitarian Universalists, adopted a Statement of Conscience entitled "Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice." The three-page statement calls on UU congregation members to "eat ethically" by becoming aware of the ways that our food choices affect our health and the planet's health. It makes references to industrial farming, condemns mistreatment of animals and workers in food production, encourages a diet based more on plants than animals, and invites all of us to seek out and advocate for food that is raised responsibly. The Statement also invites UU congregations to work for "food justice" so that everyone can have "adequate, nutritious food."
A significant proportion of the global food supply is grown in tropical regions where agricultural practices are often unsustainable for the land and its peoples. In recent years, many corporations such as Whole Foods, Walmart, Lipton Tea and Chiquita have begun to work with The Rainforest Alliance, which aims to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. The initiatives of Chiquita Brands International provide a good example of putting corporate social responsibility into effect.
Presenter Karen Pati, who is a Sanibel resident, serves on Chiquita's Corporate Responsibility Steering Committee, with both international oversight, and a focus on sustainability efforts in North America. Ms. Pati will share details about the company's transformative work on banana farming in the tropics, leading to standards and 3rd party certifications since 1992 when Chiquita first engaged with the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance (RA) and its partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) created nine guiding principles aimed at promoting environmental sustainability and social equity on banana farms.
Zero tolerance for deforestation
Prohibition of the so-called "dirty dozen" pesticides
Protection of wildlife
Conservation of water and soils
Better pay and working conditions
The right to trade union organization
In addition to Rainforest Alliance certification, Chiquita has developed unique initiatives to help protect the biodiversity of the communities in which it does business.
In 2007, Chiquita Brands voluntarily elected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SmartWay Program; and made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with transportation. Chiquita then become a founding member of LEAP (Leaders of Environmental Assessment Performance Consortium) and actively partnered with the MIT-Center for Transportation and Logistics to establish the most comprehensive carbon footprint assessment of bananas in the world. This partnership work was recently recognized by the Distribution Business Management Association with its Circle of Excellence Award.
Karen Pati is a Category Development Manager for Chiquita Brands and earned her BS and MBA degrees from Indiana University.
A self-described 'foodie,' Karen started her food career in college as a volunteer serving on the board of BloomingFoods, a natural food cooperative in Bloomington, IN. Her long-term support of food banking continues today on the board of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, SW Florida's regional food bank. With over 15-years of prior supermarket experience at Jewel Food Stores, she has a diverse food industry perspective.
An active volunteer, Karen is chairing the Operations and Technology committee for the Harry Chapin Food Bank of SW Florida; is a board member for Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships and the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva; and serves as Area 6 Director for Zonta International.
Karen and her husband, Dr. Gopal 'Indy' Pati enjoy their life together in Sanibel. When the tide, the water quality and the weather align, you're likely to find them boating, fishing, and otherwise enjoying the glory of our local wildlife here in Southwest Florida.